GLENS FALLS — On paper, very little separated Adirondack and Manchester. The respective second and third seeds in the ECHL’s North Division both have ample talent.
But the Monarchs are showcasing theirs while Adirondack’s seems to be bottled up. Manchester took advantage of the Thunder’s uncharacteristically sloppy defensive play to win Game 2 of the division semifinals 6-1 Saturday. The Monarchs have a 2-0 series lead with up to three games in Manchester next week.
“They’re capitalizing on their opportunities, and we know that’s how they can be dangerous, and we’re not capitalizing on ours,” alternate captain Peter MacArthur said. “That’s why it’s a seven-game series, right? We’re in a hole right now, we’re not in a crater.”
Hole or crater — and Saturday’s performance might lead one to question that — it has to be asked if the Thunder have the right tools to dig out. And the tools they’ll need involve the mental aspect of the game, as Adirondack got caught watching repeatedly.
“I’d rather always have it be physical (problems) because you’re mentally engaged,” MacArthur said. “Things happen, it’s a fast game, it’s an instinctual game. You’re not always going to be perfect, but the mental brain farts definitely need to be cut down to a minimum because against a team like this — they’ve got a bunch of NHL contracts — they’re gonna bury opportunities, as they’ve shown in two games with 10 goals.”
The Thunder took a 1-0 lead on John Edwardh’s power-play goal at 4:48 of the first period, when he hit a backhanded rebound in.
The Monarchs tied it at 1 late in the first when Pavel Jenys beat his man and found Tony Cameranesi on the crease.
Adirondack’s errors continued in the second. Kevin Dufour found a streaking Nic Pierog, who had gotten past his man and flipped the puck over Alex Sakellaropoulos.
Manchester then converted on a 5-on-3 power play at 6:48, and killed off a Thunder 5 on 3 later in the period.
“Special teams were kind of a difference, but not really. Both teams were 1 for 5 at the end of the night,” Thunder coach Alex Loh said.
Manchester’s Bokondji Imama’s sharp wrister gave the Monarchs a 4-1 lead after two periods.
Then, as if to prove it could keep killing penalties, Manchester killed 1:52 of a penalty to start the third.
For good measure, both of Manchester’s final two goals were the result of Thunder puck-watching and not skating with their men.
Loh said the scoring chances weren’t that far apart.
“Joe Paterson tracks them for us,” Loh said. “He said it was 16-13 for them, so when you look at that, you kind of realize we’re not that far off, but we’ve got to figure out a way to score and keep theirs out of the net.”
Sakellaropoulos got the start in goal instead of Game 1 starter Evan Cormier, though in the end, both goalies’ stories will be the same: They didn’t get enough help.
Game 4 will be Friday at Manchester and Game 5, if necessary, is scheduled there for Saturday.